Hugh Casey previews Pistorius: A Shakespearean Tragedy, going up at the Barron Theatre 19TH April, 6:00PM and 20TH April, 7:30PM.


 

‘To free or lock me for my transgression…’

No prior investment in the tragic shooting of Reeva Steenkamp will be necessary to engage and enjoy this production. An original conception, Pistorius was written by Isaac Mayne, in his first dramatic endeavour since his primary school Nativity. Fear not! The script is keen and intricate, promising to capture the rueful pain and dramatic sense in the tragedy aptly as it returns to global attention with the retrial of Oscar Pistorius on the 18th April.

Whilst alike stylistically to the Tragedies of the Bard himself Pistorius remains unique, atypical to other Shakespearean adaptations you may have seen before. Deep into rehearsals, Mayne and Isabelle Duff’s co-direction are leading through competent strength, with Beth Atkin as Producer the cast is tight, charismatic, composed, ready to thrust audiences deep into the cruel depths of death and court-room suspense. The play brings no tabloid triviality from the events that were surrounded in scandal and uncertainty, only the core drama from the heart of the event.

Jon White has taken on the leading role of Oscar Pistorius, where his bleeding monologues ascertain the emotional burden of such inner turmoil mostly neglected from coverage of the case. Surrounding White will be a powerful selection of female roles, battling ferociously from opposing sides in the case: Catriona Scott in support of Pistorius as his Aunty, clashing with Carla Jenkins playing Lady Steenkamp.

I was had the privilege of sitting in a rehearsal with the full cast. From what I saw I can vouch for how great the show will be. I pledge to refund anyone who does not enjoy the show! I was also fortunate enough to have a chat with Isaac, here is what went down:

Q: Do you have any hopes for what people will take away from the play?

A: “When I first started writing it (just after the shooting took place and I was in school), the idea was that people would ponder why we have always found tragedy so compelling. Swap out Oedipus for Pistorius, and you have still got a crowd fascinated in how and why a guy’s life fell to pieces. Since then, I have tried to put in a few more aspects, like how the focus on him may have unfairly hidden the mourning of Reeva, and how we battle to believe the stories we are told or tell ourselves. Ultimately, my dream would be for the audience to find something I hadn’t even considered. That would be cool.”

Q: At first it seemed like an extended joke, black humour scripted and performed, but from the scenes I saw your cast and crew had the professionality of a play with history and tradition. Was there some personal investment in the case, or was it an exercise to stretch your creativity?

A: “The play was born out of something I started writing in school nearly four years ago, and ever since coming to St Andrews I have thought it would be awesome to put it up. When I heard he was going to be re-trialled, I thought that it would be crazy to have it go up as everyone starts talking about it again – giving it more ‘resonance’ and ‘relevance’ and other things I am told are good – and THEN I found out that it was during Mermaids’ SHAKESPEARE Festival. So after checking my dates were correct approx. 57 times, I dusted off the script and got back to it. So it has been with me for a while. We might actually make a movie about the making of it with Michael Fassbender to play our Co-Director Isabelle Duff.”

Q: Is there anything you are particularly excited to see on the stage in the performances?

A: “Every single little bit of it with lighting, music, costumes, the audience, and my parents’ faces. But if I had to pick a favourite: ‘To free or lock me for my transgression…’ I will probably squeal a little bit.”

Q: How have you found your first production?

A: “It has been sweet. I have always been writing stuff – mostly ridiculous short stories – but I did not know what I would make of directing. But I have really enjoyed working with such a wonderful cast. And we will just wait and see to find out if I am any good at it. Isabelle (to be played by Michael Fassbender) has been a wonderful help for the authoritative/bad cop stuff, and my producer/the reason I live – Beth Atkin -has nailed every logistical aspect (that I probably should have been helping with) to perfection.”

When you are sat at home with your family watching Michael Fassbender co-directing Pistorius: A Shakespearean Tragedy on screen would not it be cool to be like: “Did you know I saw this production in its inaugural run?” Well, do not let this opportunity slip away into the mists of awesome things you could have/almost did at university.

As part of the Shakespeare Festival performances will be at the Barron Theatre 19TH April, 6:00PM and 20TH April, 7:30PM. Tickets cost £3. £3 shit-hot value for money if you ask me, which is of course implicit as you are reading this: my input. Tickets will be available on the door or can be reserved by emailing: barronboxoffice@st-andrews.ac.uk.

 

Hugh Casey